AMD PowerPlay is the brand name for a set of technologies for the reduction of the energy consumption implemented in several of AMD's graphics processing units and APUs supported by their proprietary graphics device driver "Catalyst". AMD PowerPlay is also implemented into ATI/AMD chipsets which integrated graphics and into AMD's Imageon handheld chipset, that was sold to Qualcomm in 2008.
Besides the per se desirable goal to reduce energy consumption, AMD PowerPlay helps to lower the noise levels created by the cooling in desktop computers and extend battery life in mobile devices. AMD PowerPlay has been succeeded by AMD PowerTune
Currently supported products
The official ATI support list lists only the ATI Radeon 3800 series desktop cards, but PowerPlay is also a listed feature of all Radeon HD 3000/4000/5000 series products. Independent reviews indicated that the latter was already lower power compared to other 3D cards, so the addition of PowerPlay to that line was clearly intended to address an increasingly power, heat and noise conscious market. The ATI Radeon HD 2600 line - which does not support PowerPlay - is now generally being phased out in favour of the 3000s at the same price points that also support PCI Express 2.0, DirectX 10.1 and faster GDDR3 memory - though it also works with DDR2.
The entire ATI Radeon Xpress line is also supported for single board computers which tend to be power sensitive and used in large installations where configuration and boot image control are major concerns.
Desktop versus laptop
The main differences between the desktop version and the laptop version is that the desktop version cut the feature which were aimed at notebook usages, including variable LCD backlight brightness, leaving dynamic clock adjustments. The PowerPlay technology for Radeon desktop graphics also used three usage scenarios, accordingly the normal mode (2D mode), light gaming mode and intensive gaming mode (3D mode), replacing usage scenarios in notebook (being plugged or unplugged from AC source). Tests indicated that the lowest core clock frequency of an RV670 GPU core can reach as low as 300 MHz with PowerPlay technology enabled.
The technology was first implemented in Mobility Radeon products for notebooks, to provide a set of features to lower the power consumption of the laptop computer. The technology consists of several technologies; examples include dynamic clock adjustments when the notebook is not plugged into a power socket and allowing different backlight brightness levels of the notebook LCD monitor. The technology was updated with the release of each generation of mobile GPUs. The latest release is ATI PowerPlay 7.0.
Since the release of Radeon HD 3000 Series, PowerPlay was implemented to further reduce the power consumption of desktop GPUs.
- Cool'n'Quiet & PowerNow! – power saving technologies for CPUs
- NVIDIA PowerMizer, similar functionality provided in mobile GeForce products
- PC Watch image. Retrieved December 3, 2007. Notice the core speed in current clock settings section in gray.